More young people must be given the opportunity to participate in the country’s governance and development discourse to engender development, a political science lecturer at the University of Ghana, Professor Ransford Gyampo, has stated.
Describing the current practice where only the elderly were allowed to play the front role in the governance process as “gerontocracy,” he said was an “upside-down thinking” that had plagued and undermined the country’s development.
He, therefore, charged adult politicians to allow the youth to participate in governance and not confine their role in politics to serving as voting machines, foot-soldiers and activists of political violence.
“They are deemed mature and competent enough to determine who must lead them at age 18, but they are described as immature to participate in substantive governance processes beyond serving as voting machines. This is shamefully weak a logic that must not be sustained as it is palpably ridiculous,” Prof. Gyampo stated.
He was speaking at the launch of the Youth Parity campaign by the Youth Bridge Foundation, a youth development not-for-profit organisation, in Accra last Thursday.
The campaign is aimed at promoting equity in youth participation in Parliament and other decision-making platforms.
He observed that over 70 per cent of the country’s population was below the age of 35, with 62 percent of the voter population in the last election being between 18 and 35.
In spite of the aforementioned figures, Prof. Gyampo noted that only 13 persons representing five per cent of the current Members of Parliament (MP) fell between 21 and 35 years.
“Is it not fatal for our democracy for this huge segment of our population to be severely under-represented?” he queried.
Call on youth
Prof. Gyampo further urged young people to take keen interest and seize the opportunity to contest in the upcoming parliamentary primaries in their various political parties in order to improve youth representation on the political front.
He said although there would be several obstacles that would hinder them from achieving their dreams, they needed to remain steadfast.
“So young people, break the ranks, flout frustrating hurdles and go as independent candidates if in your judgement you believe the youth have what it takes to serve the people better,” he said.
Call on parties
He noted that political parties had the largest role to play in the level of youth membership in Parliament because getting to Parliament was almost contingent on a candidate’s success at a party’s primaries.
He, therefore, charged political parties to support youth participation in the governance process by ensuring that at least 50 per cent of contesting and winning candidates were young people.
“We call on political parties to encourage young people to contest their upcoming primaries by rethinking the open and surreptitious obstacles, including the high cost of filing fees, high cost of campaigning accentuated by the almost institutionalized corrupt norm of bribing party delegates and the bogus disingenuous refrain of asking the youth to bid their time,” he stated.